Iranian filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof, in the running for the Palme d’Or at Cannes, had to cross the mountains on foot to flee his country, an “exhausting and extremely dangerous” journey which allowed him to find refuge in Germany, he said. -he told the Guardian.

A great voice of Iranian cinema, in the sights of the mullahs’ regime for years, the 51-year-old director was recently sentenced on appeal to eight years in prison, five of which are applicable. Denouncing an “unjust” sentence, he managed to leave Iran clandestinely and take refuge in Germany in May.

Also read: Filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof, who has just fled Iran, expected at the Cannes Film Festival

He did so at the cost of a journey “of several hours, exhausting and extremely dangerous, accompanied by a guide”, which allowed him to cross the mountains and discreetly cross the border on foot, he said. Friday in the British newspaper. He initially had only a few hours to decide whether to stay in Iran or flee. But the director wanted to be able to “transmit the stories of what is happening in Iran”, and “this is something that I cannot do in prison”, he summarized.

After deactivating all his electronic devices, Mohammad Rasoulof hid in various undisclosed locations before receiving papers from the German authorities. The filmmaker, in the running for the Palme d’Or which will be awarded on May 25 at the Cannes Film Festival, hopes to be authorized to go to France to be present on the Croisette.

Also read: The tireless Francis Ford Coppola on the Croisette: “I started writing a new film”

His film The Seeds of the Wild Fig Tree, which earned him this heavy sentence, tells the story of an investigating judge gradually sinking into paranoia, at the time when huge demonstrations break out in Tehran. The director has already been convicted and imprisoned twice in Iran, where repression has continued to increase since the protest movement which shook the country in 2022 after the death of Mahsa Amini.

Despite this threat of incarceration, Mohammad Rasoulof, who has received numerous international awards including the Golden Bear in Berlin in 2020, does not rule out the possibility of returning to his country “fairly quickly”. “I always thought that if I stayed in prison for years, I wouldn’t have the strength or the ability to make these films,” he said, “so I have to make them first, and afterwards, there will always be time to go home and go to prison.”